Brand loyalty is exactly what it sounds like. But for good measure, we’ll start with a brand loyalty definition: Brand loyalty refers to the sense of loyalty your customers feel for your brand. Brand loyalty is generated in many ways, which we will cover below.
Maintaining loyal customers has significant effects on your bottom line, your brand reputation, customer churn, and increases customer satisfaction.
The importance of focusing on keeping customers happy and loyal to your brand over the long run is often overlooked or ignored. However, consider this: 60% of consumers will tell their colleagues, friends, and family about companies that have earned their loyalty. This amounts to free word-of-mouth advertising, which is hard to beat.
But let’s take this one step further. Nielsen reports that 83% of consumers trust product and brand recommendations from friends and family more than ads and other sources of brand promotion. But that’s not all. That same percentage of consumers (83%) say they take action on these recommendations at least some of the time.
The importance of building brand loyalty is clear. The real question is: how do you create loyalty among your customer base? Below we’ll cover the most important tips and best practices for doing so.
Best practices for generating and maintaining brand loyalty
Companies build brand loyalty through a variety of tactics. These include delivering a solid product, devoting more time to each customer’s needs, treating customers like partners instead of faceless revenue generators, and the list goes on.
Here are a few of the most important best practices you can implement to build brand loyalty:
A world-class customer experience
The customer experience is an increasingly important element of generating brand loyalty. Walker Info predicts that in less than two years (by 2020) the customer experience will overtake product and price as the main driver of purchase decision making.
How do we define the customer experience? It includes every interaction that you have with your customers. These interactions encompass everything from customer support calls, sales calls, and how well your product serves your customers, to the amount of time you devote to their needs, and the frequency of emails you send them.
When customers feel valued and that you are proactively seeking out their opinions and making changes to improve their experience, they start to feel loyal to your brand. Be empathetic and ask yourself what you would like to receive from a company in order to trust them as the best provider of a particular product or service. Then apply that same level of attention to your customers.
Treat customers as partners in a mutually-beneficial relationship and involve them in the decision-making process of product enhancements and other changes in your company. Take the time to listen to them and make them feel valued. You’ll quickly see brand loyalty grow.
Deliver superior customer support
When your customers need help resolving an issue they have with your product, it’s essential that they can easily and quickly reach you. If customers have to wait days for a response to a submitted help desk ticket, they will grow weary and frustrated.
On the other hand, if you resolve their issues on the first attempt and don’t make them wait for a response, they will feel valued. This will also help your brand develop a reputation as a customer-centric company that places real value on the satisfaction of its customers.
Indeed, rapidly resolving customer support issues has a huge impact on brand loyalty. Forrester reports that 77% of customers claim that a company valuing their time is the single most important thing a business can do to provide them with superior customer service.
Pro tip: One key tactic that is particularly effective in quickly resolving customer issues is the use of dedicated help desk groups. These are groups of support reps that specialize in a particular product or service, ensuring customers always receive the best support available. Learn more about dedicated help desk groups.
Stay in constant contact with customers
This is an easy win that many companies overlook. If you want your customers to feel like partners, it’s advantageous to keep them informed of all new changes and company updates that arise. You can easily do this by sending a monthly or quarterly email newsletter. Include news like product updates, changes in management, new content you’ve produced, etc. Learn more about building stronger customer relationships with newsletters.
Another great tactic is to personally reach out to each customer on a regular basis (I suggest at least once per quarter). Call them directly to check in and see how things are going. Ask what you could be doing better to improve your service to them. Listen to their feedback and take action on common themes that come out of these conversations.
This quarterly call will take five minutes at most, but the resulting brand and customer loyalty you generate will be worth exponentially more down the road.
Ask customers for their feedback
Focus on making customers feel they are part of the future vision of your company. Send periodic customer satisfaction surveys (one per year at the least). Compile their responses and report back to them which themes were the most common among the responses.
Then—and this is the important part—proactively make changes based on their feedback to illustrate to them that their opinions and input are valuable to you.
Communicate those changes to customers via one-off emails or include them in your newsletter. When customers see that you’re making changes they asked for, they will feel a heightened sense of loyalty to your brand and stick around longer, providing a long-term, reliable revenue source.
Robust, thorough onboarding is crucial
The absolute best time to start building brand loyalty is when you acquire a new customer. First impressions are important, and the impression you leave with new customers will set the tone for your relationship in the future.
Don’t sign a new customer and leave them to fend for themselves. Rather, develop and implement a robust onboarding program that trains them on how to use your product, provides insights and best practices for using your product, and allows them to ask questions that relate to their unique use case.
If you set customers up to be successful from day one, they will start to display loyalty from the very beginning. Plus, if they become masters at using your product, they will stick around longer as your product is meeting all of their needs.
Check out what a proper onboarding process looks like.
There is one key takeaway here: brand loyalty depends 100% on the customer experience and customer satisfaction.
All of the best practices above tie back to increasing customer satisfaction and delivering a better customer experience.
So, to put it bluntly, building brand loyalty is all about understanding your customers and catering to their needs at all times.
As you generate loyal customers, they will start to share their positive experience with their contacts. They will share those experiences on social media. Essentially, you will create brand advocates. And having brand advocates is one of the most powerful forces that drive company and revenue growth.
With so much competition these days, it’s easy for a customer to leave you for a competitor. Building brand loyalty ensures your customers stay by your side rather than leaving you for someone who uses the best practices above to ensure customer satisfaction.